Daughters Burst Into Tears When Mom Surprises Them with Adopted Baby Sister
How to Welcome an Adopted Baby Into the Family
Adopting a baby can be one of the most exciting, challenging and rewarding experiences of your life. And no matter how long you've looked forward to it, nothing can prepare you for the magical moment when that warm little bundle is placed in your arms and you finally get to bring your baby home. This article will provide you with some helpful information on how to get ready for your adopted baby's arrival, along with suggestions on how you can welcome her into the family and create an unbreakable parent-child bond.
Preparing For the Baby's Arrival
Educate yourself.So you've gone through the long, drawn-out adoption process, signed all the paperwork, and now all that's left to do is wait for your baby to arrive. While you wait, there are an abundance of things to think and read about, so you can be as prepared as possible when you finally bring your new baby girl or boy home.
- Get your hands on some well-respected adoption books that can walk you through the different stages of the adoption process and give you an idea of what to expect once your baby is with you.
- Read about other adoptive parents' experiences on adoption blogs or forums to gain some first-hand insight into the highs and lows of raising an adopted child.
- Find out as much as you possibly can about your baby's family history, background and culture (if you are adopting internationally). This will help you to understand where your child is coming from, allowing you to ease their transition into their new life.
- Think about the style of parenting you're going to use and have a plan for how you are going to deal with potential complications or issues that arise as your baby develops.
- Realize that no amount of reading and research will prepare you 100% for the reality of bringing your baby home. Accept that not everything will go according to plan and that you must continue to learn as you go along.
Prepare other children for the new baby's arrival in advance.If you already have children -- adopted or biological -- it is vital that you prepare them for the arrival of their new little brother or sister. "Surprising" them with a new sibling is not recommended.
- Many children can feel threatened by the sudden arrival of a new addition to the family. They may feel jealous of the attention the baby is receiving and develop hostile feelings towards him/her as a result. This is the case even when the new sibling is born biologically.
- The best way to prepare for this is to educate your existing children about the adoption process and emotionally prepare them for the arrival of their new sibling. Let them know that the new baby is something they should be excited about, not something to fear or dread.
- Let them know that you will still love them just as much and even though things will be a little busy from now on, you will still have plenty of time for them.
- There are many great children's books out there specifically geared towards teaching kids about the adoption process and what to expect once their new sibling arrives.
Gather the necessary baby supplies.There are so many baby products on the market that it is easy to become overwhelmed. You will either end up buying everything, or putting the baby shopping off for as long as possible. Here are some guidelines on what items are absolutely essential for your baby's arrival, and what can wait til later:
- Baby clothes: Obviously having a substantial stock of baby clothes is important - but let's not go too crazy - your baby will not need a princess outfit or miniature cowboy boots the second they arrive at your door. Stick with the essentials - plenty of comfy, cozy baby grows, an arsenal of bibs, some warm, cotton hats and baby booties. If the baby you are adopting has yet to be born, stick with gender-neutral colors such as yellow, red or green - the gender is never 100% certain until the baby arrives!
- Feeding supplies: There are tons of different types of baby bottles on the market, each slightly different from the next. Your baby might prefer one type to the other, so choose a selection of three or four different types and buy a couple of each. You can buy more once you figure out your baby's preference. You will also need to buy baby formula. Don't waste time fretting about the different varieties, ask a pediatrician for a recommendation and just go with that. You will also need lots of burping cloths, as babies tend to spit up a lot!
- Hygiene supplies: You will need diapers - and lots of them. Choose an appropriate size for the age of the baby you are adopting. If you are adopting a newborn baby, buy both preemie size and the next size up, just to be prepared. You will also need a supply of wipes or cotton wool, some baby shampoo/soap, baby lotion and a washcloth.
- Equipment: The most important piece of equipment to get is a car seat, as you will need it to transport your new baby home. If you are collecting your baby from the hospital, you will not be allowed to leave the hospital without an adequate infant restraint system. You should also get a baby sling or wearable carrier - this way you can have your baby close to you at all time, but keep your hands free. You will also need a crib and blankets, which you should place in your own bedroom for the baby's arrival.
Book an appointment with a pediatrician.If you're not bringing your baby home from the hospital yourselves, it is a good idea to make an appointment with a pediatrician for as soon after your baby arrives as possible. This way you can have your baby thoroughly checked out and ease any concerns you might have about the baby's health or development.
- This is particularly important if you are adopting a baby from a foreign country, and even more important if the baby is coming from an orphanage or foster home where parasites or other illnesses are common.
- Many babies are brought home with respiratory viruses or other infections. These are usually minor and can easily be treated, but it is best to consult a child specialist as quickly as possible.
- Aside from any obvious health issues, the doctor will be able to check the baby's weight and height (which can sometimes be lower than previously reported) to make sure he/she is developing properly.
- Depending on the age of the baby, the doctor may also check the baby's cognitive development and make sure she responds normally to external stimuli.
- If there are any issues, you will then be able to take medically-recommended steps to restore the baby to full health and get his/her development back on track.
Take some "you" time.It is completely natural to be impatient for your adopted baby's arrival and to be counting down the days until you can hold her in your arms. However, it is important to be aware of the fact that your life is about to change forever and that once the baby arrives you will have very little time to yourself.
- Now is the time to do things you enjoy, like going out for dinner, going to see a movie, meeting up with friends, taking a trip - basically anything that won't be an option after the baby arrives (at least for a while).
- Spend some quality time with your partner - there will be a lot more pressures and responsibilities placed on you once the baby arrives, and this can put tension on even the strongest of relationships - especially if this is your first child. You and your partner need to work as a team - so make sure you are in a strong, secure, loving place before the baby arrives.
- If you already have children, you should take this waiting period as an opportunity to spend more time with them and concentrate on making them feel special and loved. Despite your best intentions, you won't have as much time to spend with them once the new baby arrives, so make an effort to give them some one-on-one attention while you still can.
Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.When it comes to adopting a baby, the best policy you can follow is to prepare for the worst, hope for the best and be satisfied with anything in between. You are bound to have your ups and downs - so make sure to keep an open mind and be ready for whatever life throws at you.
- Each family's adoption experience is different - so it's impossible to be 100% prepared for what's ahead. Just be mindful of the fact that there are guaranteed difficulties ahead - whether your baby has sleeping issues, you have difficulty bonding with her or you just find the whole experience overwhelming.
- However, also know that there will be moments of genuine joy in the weeks, months and years ahead and that no matter what obstacles are thrown in your path, you and your new baby will overcome them together.
Join a support group.Adopting a baby can be an overwhelming experience and many parents of newly adopted children can feel stressed out, frustrated, exhausted or even depressed.
- This is normal, so don't be ashamed to give yourself a break and ask for help if you need it. Support groups that cater for the parents of adopted children can provide excellent emotional support and help you to feel less alone.
- Also check for local, non-profit organisations that provide counseling and education for adoptive families.
- If you feel sad, irritable or constantly tired, you may be suffering from post-adoption depression (PAD) which is common among parents of newly adopted children. See your doctor or an adoption counselor for advice.
Forming an Emotional Attachment
Be reliable.The most important thing you can do for your new baby is to be there for them whenever they need you, any time of night or day.
- You need to become 100% dependable in your child's eyes, by responding to them either verbally or physically whenever they cry or call out for you.
- This is particularly important for older babies who have spent time in an orphanage or foster care. They may be accustomed to no one responding when they cry, so you need to earn their trust by showing them that you will always come when they need you.
- It is not a good idea to let adopted babies cry when they wake at night. They need to feel loved and secure, so go to them within 15 seconds to hug and comfort them, or keep them in your bedroom until they have fully adjusted to their new surroundings.
- You want your baby to take you for granted, to fully expect that you will come when they cry. This is how they will come to see you as their mother or father, and not just another caregiver.
Be physically present .Beyond just being there for your baby when they need you, it is important that you shower the baby with affection and love, which can be achieved through physical contact.
- Hold your baby as often as possible, rocking her, cuddling her, feeding her. Hold the baby in your arms whenever you can and never leave her unattended in a crib or baby seat for long periods of time.
- Make eye contact with the baby while you feed her or rock her in your arms - this will help to establish a bond between the two of you.
- Smile at the baby whenever she looks at you and talk to her in a soothing, loving voice. In time, she will come to associate these actions with safety and love, and will learn to respond in kind.
- If you are busy, place the baby in a sling and carry her against your chest so she can hear your heartbeat and become accustomed to your scent.
Create a routine.A predictable daily routine will allow your baby to feel safe and secure, while helping to minimize the stress many newly-adopted babies experience when they find themselves in a new home.
- Completing certain actions, such as bottle time, nap time, bath time and play time, at the same times each day can increase your baby's confidence and help her to feel safe.
- Try to narrate these activities as you do them. When she wakes up in the morning, tell her what the plan is for that day. Even if she can't understand the words, she will come to associate your voice with these nurturing, repetitive actions.
- To enable this to work properly, you will need to take several weeks once the baby arrives to just stay at home and establish the routine, without any distractions or disruptions.
- Keep things low-key - avoid bringing the baby around to different houses, to the shopping center or to the park, and limit the number of visitors you have at your house - at least for a few weeks. The baby needs to feel secure and home, which she will find impossible if her surroundings are constantly changing.
- Despite the need for routine, it is important to remain flexible within the familiar structure. Learn to respond to your child's cues - if you hear her hungry cry, then feed her; don't wait until the assigned feeding time.
Remember that attachment is a process.Keep in mind that forming a deep bond with your baby will take time. Yes, you may fall in love with them instantly, but that love will continue to grow and deepen over time.
- Sometimes the baby will not respond to you in the way that you'd hoped. They may refuse to make eye contact, turn their head away from you when you speak to them, or else become very clingy and upset around you.
- If this happens, don't despair. Keep treating the child with love, patience and affection and they will eventually come around.
- Keep in mind that you have had months, perhaps even years, to prepare for welcoming this baby into your home. You probably loved her before you ever set eyes on her. But for the baby, everything was probably very sudden and she will need time to adjust to her new home and to accept you as her parent.
- Earning your adopted baby's love and trust will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
Introducing the Family
Introduce the adopted baby to siblings.If you have prepared your other children for the arrival of the new baby, they will probably be dying to meet their little brother or sister. Make the introduction in a calm, controlled environment with just the immediate family members present.
- Some kids can have unrealistic expectations about what the baby will be like - they may expect to be able to play with her and treat her like a doll.
- The baby might have other ideas however, and become scared or overwhelmed by all the attention.
- As a result, it is best to warn older kids that their new sibling will be shy and that they will have to be very kind and gentle towards her.
Make use of gifts.Remember that the introduction of a new sibling can cause existing children to feel threatened or neglected. A good way to overcome this and create positive feelings between your child and new baby is to present the child with a gift "from his little sister/brother".
- Children under four can be especially taken with this, and it can be enough to change their mind about whether the new addition is worth keeping!
- If the adopted baby is from a foreign or exotic country, it can be a nice idea to choose a gift associated with that country's culture.
- You can also get gifts for your existing child or children to present to the new baby, or encourage them to create a card or poster welcoming her into the family.
Spend time with each child individually.It is important that your existing children don't feel left out or neglected after the arrival of the new baby. All children want to feel special and loved, and it's your job as a parent to make them feel this way.
- You can do this by spending one-on-one time with each child individually, even if it's just a simple trip to the park or playing a game together. You want your older child to feel like they are still a key member of the family, worthy of your undivided attention.
- Even though it's natural that you want your existing child and newly adopted child to bond, its important to realize that they do not need to spend all of their time together. Let their relationship evolve naturally.
Give the new siblings time to adjust.Don't worry if your older child doesn't feel an immediate bond with your new baby. This is completely normal, even with biological siblings. Bonding takes time -- it does not happen overnight.
- To help the process along, let your older child spend plenty of time around the new baby, holding her and playing with her. Also be sure to emphasize the importance of his/her role as an older brother or sister.
- If the adopted baby is a newborn, take comfort in the fact that she will have absolutely no awareness of any potential negative feelings coming from the older child. She will grow up loving her older brother or sister as naturally as a biological child would.
- The older child may take slightly longer to adjust to his/her new sibling, but this is to be expected. Once he or she has adjusted to the new family dynamic, the sibling bond will begin to develop and any past uncertainties should disappear.
Limit visits from extended family.One of the hardest, yet most important things to remember when you bring your new baby home is to limit her exposure to people outside the immediate family for the first few weeks.
- Your baby needs time to accept you as a parent -- a process which requires as much physical contact and one-on-one interaction as possible. She needs to learn to recognize your smell, your voice and the feel of your arms in order to imprint on you and develop that unshakable bond between parent and baby.
- In order to form this all-important parent-child bond, you will need to be the only one (along with your partner) to meet her needs -- including feeding, bathing, dressing and comforting.
- If the baby is passed around from relation to relation and exposed to a barrage of new faces, voices and smells all at once, she will have difficulty in identifying you as her number-one caregiver and parent. This is particularly important for babies adopted from orphanages or foster homes who may be accustomed to receiving care from multiple people.
- This can be difficult for extended family members to accept -- especially for those who may have waited with your for months or even years and are dying to meet their new niece/nephew/grandchild. Try to explain the situation to them before the baby arrives and impress on them the importance of this one-on-one bonding time with your baby. This way, even if they are not pleased, they should understand.
- Tell them that if they want to help out, they can help you with things like laundry, preparing meals, or babysitting your other kids. Do not be too proud to accept this help if your need it.
- Once the first couple of weeks have passed and the bond with your baby has been established, you can slowly start to introduce other family member into her life.
QuestionWhat should do if my daughter won't spend any time with her adopted sister?Tanya MishraCommunity AnswerIndulge them with interesting games. Find movies girls like, or activities girls love, or other things which will involve both of them. This will make common interests between them and as time passes, they will become closer and spend more time together.Thanks!
- As your baby grows, you may face the decision of whether or not to tell him or her that they are adopted. Most experts recommend telling adopted children as much information as possible (or appropriate) about their background. As a result, it is a good idea to keep mementos from the child's past, their birth parents and the adoption process. You can put all of this information into a scrapbook that the child can read as they grow older.
- If your baby is from a different racial background, you will not have a choice in the matter of telling them they're adopted. In this case, it is a nice idea to educate your child on their cultural background and heritage. For example, you might celebrate Chinese New Year with a baby adopted from China, or read books about Russia to a child adopted from there.
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